I have been fortunate enough to live all over the country. I have been additionally fortunate to have a military father who was briefly stationed overseas in Norway. I had the pleasure of extended visits which enabled me to somewhat immerse myself in the life and culture of my ancestors. Few people think of Norway when planning a trip to Europe. They focus on the big ones like Paris, London, Rome, Madrid, but I urge you to widen your horizons and consider this breathtakingly beautiful country.
Growing up in America, it is easy to forget how different we all are and accept that as the norm. This is a good thing. However, when my plane touched ground in Norway and I was surrounded by tall blondes that looked exactly like me, I was… well awestruck. I remember thinking how odd it felt to look at others and see myself in their features. It felt weirdly like… coming home.
To be honestly, the only thing I did not love about my time in Oslo was the price and the services. The country is doing VERY WELL for themselves. They recently discovered massive amounts of oil and as the country runs almost completely on clean energy, they export most of the oil and save, well most of the money. Buying a subway sandwich there was the equivalent of a lush sushi dinner in L.A. Additionally, since they respect their workers, servers do not need to beg for tips and therefore perform their job with little fuss and fewer manners. The people of Norway have very honest personalities, and while they are quick laugh and joke, they are equally quick to tell you to shove off with your arrogant attitude. Again, they’re my kind of people 😉 .
I always visited in the winter, which, I think, is the perfect time for Oslo. As the country is so far north, I got to experience the lengthy darkened days. The sun would rise around 11am and set around 4pm. Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate the sun and so this suited me just fine. It was enough time to run amuck during the day, and gave me an excuse to cuddle up with a hot chocolate by the fireplace by 5pm. #lifegoalz During the summer, if its your thing, you could enjoy a day that never ends while the sun refuses to set. I am also a huge fan of the cold. I would go running in the morning, to combat all the hot chocolate, and enjoyed a world completely frozen over. Streams and water falls would be halted in their tracks as ducks tried to break through their icy surface. The sweat would freeze to my face and by the time I got home, I would have icicles forming on my eyelashes. Sounds weird, but it was really cool.
Oslo is a very active city. My father told me that members of the embassy would regularly use their lunch break as an excuse to go cross country skiing. Near my parents house was a football field that was converted into a ice rink during the long winter months. It. Was. Huge. We went on a Christmas Eve so there was hardly anyone at the rink. My family had the run of the entire field to skate with abandon. In America, you’re lucky to find a rink the size of a room without 50 people running into you every five seconds.
My favorite day was one of sledding. My brother and I went to a small mountain in the city. You ride the tram to the top where you find a beautiful viking cabin. You rent sleds of all varieties. We chose ones with a steering wheel and brakes and very comfy seats for our trek down… the mountain. The entire mountain. They built a no frills course that went round and round until you reached the base. It took us a good 30-45 minutes (depending on how many times we sabotaged the other to crash). At the bottom you’d catch the tram back up and sled down again. It was every child’s DREAM. The cabin at the top had the bed homemade apple pie and hot chocolate (catching the theme?) that I have every had. I’m pretty sure we bought a slice with every trek to the top.
My parents lived in a gorgeous old mansion near the Central Park of Oslo: Vigeland Park. It is the world’s largest sculpture park and exhibits the work of Gustav Vigeland. There are over 200 statues in bronze, granite and wrought iron. In my opinion, his work very much puts mankind on display in all its forms. We would have a fun time roaming the statues and imitating them in a very mature way.
There is so much to do in Norway. So much history to soak up. Between their theatre scene (Ibsen) and the viking ships, the Nobel Peace Prize Hall, their modern art, their ancient architecture… you could easily keep yourself occupied for a lengthy visit. My favorite was the WWII Resistance museum. Do yourself a favor and look up my hero: Gunnar Sonsteby.
Keep Norway in mind. You won’t regret it.